Property contribution to Canberra

Without farmers we don't eat.  Without developers, we don't have shelter from the storm.

Almost every house, street and neighbourhood in Canberra is the result of a developer taking a risk and realising a vision. Every shop, workplace, school, road and public building was constructed with the help of the property industry.

Canberra’s property and construction industry deals in more than ‘bricks and mortar’.  Each new housing project provides work for around 40 trades, sub-trades and para professionals. The second largest employer in the national capital, the property and construction industry is also the largest contributor of taxes. 

Last week, CommSec’s Chief Economist Craig James joined us in Canberra to provide his annual overview of the ACT economy and the prospects for the property industry.

After years of topping the table of state and territory economies, the ACT has recently fallen to sixth of eight economies. Building approvals are down and unemployment is trending upwards.  We have the highest office market vacancy rate on record. And the budget has been blown by the Mr Fluffy buyback scheme. 

We may be facing challenging times in the ACT, but James points out that the ACT’s 4.5 per cent unemployment rate means that 95.5 per cent of people are working. “Businesses are hiring again and consumers are spending – although cautiously,” he says.

James argues we need “hard and fast decisions” from our governments to restore confidence and provide the conditions to enable the economy to flourish.

But the places we need to prosper aren’t provided by politicians or governments. They are built by developers. The local economy that we rely upon for our prosperity is underpinned by developers and the construction jobs that they create.

Many local developers are third generation Canberra families with a rock-solid commitment to the region and to building jobs, prosperity and strong communities. But it’s not enough for us to rely on attracting investment from this small pool of steadfast Canberrans. We need to attract outside investment from other people – some of those foreign investors – who also want Canberra to reach its potential.

Catherine Carter is ACT Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia